First Chapter length

by Mike
(Tenerife. Spain)

Question: My understanding is publisher's only read the first chapter of a manuscript before they accept or reject, My first Chapter is only eight and a half pages long. Any longer than that and it is into what I consider to be the second Chapter where we are introduced to the villain.


Should I attempt to make the first chapter an Introduction? I feel only eight and a half pages is not going to give my novel a chance. What should the length of a chapter be? particularly the first
Thanks
Mike.

Answer: In fact, publishers may read a lot less than a chapter. If the first paragraph grabs them, they may read the first page or so. If the first page or so grabs them, they may read the rest of the chapter. And if the first chapter grabs them, they may read the second, etc.

It doesn't really matter how long you make that first chapter. They will stop at any point in the manuscript if they decide it's not worth the investment of their time to continue--even if they've only read the first paragraph! It's not necessarily fair, but they have 1,000 other manuscripts to get to and only so many minutes a day they can spend on the slush pile.

Of course, if you impress them enough that they read the first few chapters, they may be more willing to read the entire manuscript, or perhaps a synopsis to make sure you can bring the plot to a satisfactory conclusion.

So I wouldn't worry how long you make that first chapter. Just make it a good chapter. And make sure the story grabs them on the first page. Give them an interesting voice and a situation that makes them want to find out what happens next.

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